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I’m proud to say that I was part of the first fan-funded television show in history! Many of you know Zane Lamprey from previous shows like Three Sheets and Drinking Made Easy. He travels around the world, learns local drinking customs and has a good time doing it. I previously wrote about his Kickstarter to fund a new TV show. His plan was to put in a bunch of his own money, raise money from fans, and then produce a TV show that he would market to networks. It was an easier sales pitch because their cost to produce the content was $0.

Zane has inked a deal with the National Geographic Channel and Chug premieres on Monday, November 24th at 10:30pm (ET/PT). I’ve watched the whole season and love it! Please check it out if you get a chance and then go talk about it on Twitter, etc so that it will get picked up for a second season.

This is a very cool way to make content. The only thing better would be if he had skipped old media and just sold it directly on the web or done a deal with Netflix or Amazon Prime.

The trailer for the new series is on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/104074272

This was the first year of the new NASCAR playoff scheduling system. Every car still races in every race, but towards the end of the season, they start knocking people out of contention for the championship. In the last race, points are reset for the top four drivers and whoever finishes the best, wins.

It was an interesting format and I’m not sure how much I like it, but what I did like was watching Ryan Newman’s terrific year. After parting ways with Stewart Haas Racing and getting a rid with Childress, he really seemed to flourish. He never won a race, but he finished strong most of the time and that put him in contention for the championship in the last race of the year.

He ended up finishing the race second to Harvick so he was one spot away from winning it all. While winning clearly would have been sweeter, this was still an incredible effort. Congrats to Newman and his whole team!

I hardly watched any races this year due to dropping ESPN from my cable package, but hopefully I’ll get to watch a few more next year as Elijah gets a little older and the are only split across FOX and NBC (not ESPN or TNT, yay!)

The Seahawks played a reasonably good game last week but couldn’t evade defeat. They had two big fourth down failures that really put the nails in the coffin. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for them coming up.

In our league, we cleaned up some active streaks. Logan’s 4 game winning streak ended and Luke’s 4 game losing streak ended. After having one of our highest average total scores last week, this week we almost had our lowest average total score. It’s interesting how often the entire league goes up or down together.

Tim retained the top spot in the power rankings despite his loss and the power rankings now match the top four spots in our league. Three more weeks will determine the top four spots that will advance to the playoffs!

  1. Tim (--)
  2. Jim ( 1)
  3. Logan  ( 1)
  4. Ben (--)

Now on to the weekly awards.

  • Highest Team Score
    • This Week: Jim had 137.81
    • Season: In week 10, Tim had 184.06
    • All-Time: In 2013, Tim had 195.50
  • Lowest Team Score
    • This Week: Andy had 69.94
    • Season: In Week 3, Luke had 55.04
    • All-Time: In 2011, Luke had 47.01
  • Biggest Blowout
    • This Week: Ben beat Andy by 38.92
    • Season: In week 8, Austin beat Dad by 103.48
    • All-Time: In 2010, Luke beat Andy by 113.02
  • Closest Win
    • This Week: Austin beat Dad by 19.19.
    • Season: In Week 2, Austin beat Ben by 1.7
    • All-Time: In 2012, Jim beat Ben by 0.12
  • Highest Scoring Player
    • This Week: Jonas Gray had 43.90 points in free agency.
    • Season: In Week 8, Ben Roethlisberger had 56.78 for Dad
    • All-Time: In 2013, Peyton Manning scored 60.28 for Andy
  • Longest Winning Streaks:
    • Active: Ben has a 3 game winning streak.
    • Season: Jim and Tim had a 5 game winning streak
    • All-Time: In 2011, Micah had an 8 game winning streak
  • Longest Losing Streaks:
    • Active: Dad has a 2 game losing streak
    • Season: Dad, Andy and Luke had 4 game losing streaks
    • All-Time: In 2011, Kyle had a 14 game losing streak

I picked this up from MattB’s recent Facebook post. It’s a Forbes article entitled “Why Don’t More People Work As Programmers?” It does an excellent job of describing what it takes to be a great programmer. Programming is not something that you can learn by taking a class or two or ten. Give it a read if you’ve got a code monkey in your life. Our profession is a mystery to a lot of people. The article won’t explain the mystery, but it might help you appreciate the complexity of the trade.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2014/10/31/why-dont-more-people-work-as-programmers/

I ordered a Microsoft Band the morning that they were announced. It’s an intriguing little device and I was already in the market for a watch device that would log GPS points for me.

First of all, the device works with Windows Phone, Android or iOS so pretty much no matter what you use, you’re included. There are a ton of sensors packed into this thing: mic, heart rate monitor, GPS, accelerometer, ambient light, galvanic skin response, and even a UV sensor. Those sensors let it act like a standard fitness device tracking your steps, your heart rate, etc and if you’re on a run you’ll get your GPS track too. It connects to your phone via a Bluetooth connection so you can get notifications about new text messages, emails, phone calls, Facebook messages, etc. It pretty much does everything that a fitness tracker or a smart watch do but it does it all in one device.

The LCD screen is a touchscreen so you can navigate through the various options and scroll through your notifications. The screen is really nice, but to read it easily, you pretty much need to wear it with the screen on the bottom of your wrist. That’s fine but you’ll want to make sure you use the included screen protector since it’s always banging on your desk. The other downside of wearing it upside down is that the heart rate monitor has a harder time locking onto your heartbeat. When I look at the chart of my heartbeat, it’s very spotty.

The app is a key part of this device. It let’s you adjust what notifications get sent to your band and it also displays more of the detailed information that it collects like your heart rate graph and a map of your run.

They say the battery lasts 48 hours if you’re not using GPS and that seems pretty accurate. I’ve been skipping the sleep tracking portion so I just turn it off at night and I can easily get 3 full days out of a charge.

There’s a ton of tech packed into this thing, but that brings up the biggest downside for me: it’s huge. All smart bands/watches are bulky to some extent, but this one feels pretty uncomfortable. Now you should know that I haven’t worn a watch in well over a decade so anything on my wrist feels weird, but this bugs me more than a watch. There are sensors and batteries around almost every part of the band. If it was more of a cloth/leather band, it would be a lot more comfortable but they obviously couldn’t fit everything into that form factor. It’s so big that I have a hard time getting my sleeve cuffs over it. If I tighten it down so that it fits under my sleeves better, then it’s really uncomfortable.

Is this cool? Yes. Am I going to keep wearing it? Nope. I forced myself to wear it for a week to give it a chance, but it’s just too annoying. I loved having notifications available with a quick glance at my wrist but that doesn’t outweigh the awkwardness of wearing it. If you want to buy one, go try one on at a Microsoft Store first.

Wearables probably are the future of tech, but we haven’t broken through to something really useful yet. (And no, the iWatch Apple Watch isn’t the answer either.) We’re going to look back at this whole generation of gadgets like we look at Palm Pilots and the Newton. We’re headed in the right direction but we still need to crack the code.

So is the Band a huge failure for Microsoft? Partially, but not really. This article talks about how the Band is a demo device for Microsoft to promote the bigger success in this picture which is their backend service/app called Health platform. They are trying to combine all these crazy independent silos of fitness and wearable data sources. It’s a great idea and hopefully it will take off even if this iteration of the Band doesn’t.

I don’t have room (or money) for full size woodworking equipment in my garage, so instead I buy the smaller versions. But there are lots of different things out there to spend your money on. Which tools do you really need?

Rockler has a nice article talking about the 8 basic tools you should consider for a small shop. I’m only missing the band saw and the thickness planer. Both are on my list but I’m still trying to figure out which one I’ll look at next.

Before I buy any more tools, I’m dreaming about redoing the shelves and the workbench so that I can use the full wall for a project bench. That would let me line up all my tools at the correct heights so that it’s easier to work with long pieces. That’s still very early in the design phase though.

I mentioned Tuesday that the videos on various YouTube channels are great educational experiences even if you don’t build the projects. Here are some of the things I’ve learned in the past couple months. Feel free to laugh at me if these are basic things you’ve known for a long time!

  • Sandpaper gets clogged up well before the grit is actually gone. This is especially true for power sanders. Instead of throwing the sandpaper away before it’s used up, get a sandpaper eraser. It looks like magic the first time you use it! I recorded a quick video showing it in action.
  • Bending wood or even something stiff like a very thick extension cord is a good way to draw curves. But holding the curve in place while you’re drawing the curve requires a third hand and you can’t always clamp it in place while you draw. It turns out there is a great tool just for this and it’s called a drawing bow.
  • I don’t have a good photo of this, but I found myself needing to make a lot of repeat cuts at the same length using the chop saw. I had a 1x1 piece of oak that I cut around 4 feet long and then drilled two holes so it attached to my chop saw with some bolts. That sticks out the end and I can put a clamp on that at whatever distance I need, place my that I’m cutting up against that, and then get a repeatable cut every time. Until I have a table like this, the extension is a good solution that can be easily stored away.
  • My last couple projects like the desk left my garage covered in sawdust. It was everywhere! Since then, I’ve been trying to collect more of it with the shop vac. The router table and belt/disc sander both have 2.5” ports that hook up easily to the shop vac. Others like the chop saw had an odder sized hole but this universal adapter worked great. One of my next projects is going to be building a box underneath the table saw with a hole for a shop vac hose at the bottom. That should help collect most of the dust from the saw. It will never be as good as a real dust collection system, but it’s much better than nothing. I might invest in a cyclone at some point too which helps pull most of the dust out before it reaches your shop vac. It’s a lot easier to empty a 5 gallon bucket than the shop vac and it keeps the filter clean.

Usually things like this aren’t the main point of the video or might not even be mentioned, but I regular spot solutions to problems that I have. You can learn a lot just by watching someone who knows what they are doing. You’ll either learn a new tip or find some new gadget to buy!

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